Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark made four birdies and an eagle for a 5-under 67 to lead the Sicilian Open by three strokes on Saturday heading to the final round.
Olesen, who was runner-up three times in his debut season on the European Tour last year, superbly managed the 16 mph gusts off the Mediterranean.
With the halfway lead shared by six overnight, only Olesen broke clear in the testing conditions.
For the eagle on the par-5 14th, he reached the green in two before sinking a difficult putt from 15 feet.
"It was definitely not easy, but I played great," Olesen said. "I am confident in my play for tomorrow but there are a lot of good guys up there and I'm going to have to do my best."
At 9 under were Nicolas Colsaerts (69) of Belgium and Andrew Parr (67) of Canada.
Irishman Peter Lawrie (72) remained in contention in a tie for fourth with Lloyd Saltman (69) of Scotland and Soren Kjeldsen (71) of Denmark.
"I was pleased to shoot par in these conditions," Lawrie said. "I think my experience of playing in Ireland certainly helped because I was struggling at times."
American Scott Pinckney (70) was five shots off the lead with two-time major winner John Daly (72) a shot farther back. Former PGA Championship winner Rich Beem made 73 to drop to 5 under.
"I got my score to 2 under, so to finish on par is disappointing," Daly said. "But par is still a great score, the wind made it so tough out there. It gives me a chance for tomorrow."